September 2008

Satoko Fujii and Ma-do
at the Guelph Jazz Festival & Colloquium
September 5, 2008River Run CentreGuelph
What Music Can Do
by David Fujino
In our hunger for something new, we came to hear Satoko Fujii and her Ma-do group.

I'd already heard Ma-do's new CD recording — Heat Wave (NotTwo MW806-2), recorded April 19th in Tokyo — so I had an idea of what they'd sound like; but on this particular evening, pianist Fujii and Ma-do's live 60-minute set, for me, failed to ignite.

An identifiable search for group unity sounded out in Fujii's unison piano/trumpet themes — and the bass and drums responded with mostly matching rhythms — but this didn't make for an exciting, engaging listening experience. The playing instead came off as restrained and contained.

Of course, the instrumental soloing of all four members was demonstrably articulate, and certainly Fujii's piano playing was admired and enjoyed, with its wide cross-referencing of free jazz, Japanese folk songs, Cecil Taylor, new music, and the prepared piano, while the rips, snorts, and gurgles of Natsuki Tamura's flatulent trumpet rode out shrewdly on the spread-out rhythm of Horikoshi's drums and the alternately sinewy and swooning string bass of Koreyasu.

You could say the five tunes played out like impressionistic, jazz-oriented chamber pieces filled with extended technique solos.

You could also wish for more unification of the composed and solo sections and a loosening of restraint in the group, especially in the improvised solo segments where a loosening of restraints is surely what it's all about.

But, whether music exists to move you, or in the case of Fujii and Ma-do, it seemingly exists to be admired for its musical form, a true moment of peace was reached in the last piece, "To the Skies" — a miniature sound vignette that balances the slow creaky door of Koreyasu's bass with the piano's 4-beat chording to evoke an open window state of mind.

The musicians
Satoko Fujii — piano
Natsuke Tamura — trumpet
Norikatsu Koreyasu— acoustic bass
Akira Horikoshi — drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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